As we approach the waning days of our trip to Ireland, we come full-circle in regards to art work. From our first day at Lough Crew where we saw 5,000 year old rock carvings to today's visit to the murals of Bogside depicting the 1972 protest where of 13 men and boys died in the Bloody Sunday massacre, art is used to express human emotion and document history. As you write today's blog, reflect on the history of Ireland and how it lead to these events as well as the role of art in human history.
It was a sad start to our day as we addressed tragedy among us. Although Memorial Day is not observed in Ireland, it seemed an appropriate day for our travels through Yeats' Country. From Drumcliffe, where Yeats worshiped and was buried, to Sligo town, on to the abandoned manor of the Parkes family with it's poignant castle history, to Glencar waterfall where it does not seem improbable that fairies still await the willing human child, and finally to Gleniff Horseshoe where Dairmuid and Grainne hid from Finn McCool -- the day was filled with memory-invoking landscapes and stories of loss and hope. As you think about today's events, dwell on the role of memory of past stories and peoples as it relates to modern Irish culture. The Drumcliffe priest spoke of the area being 'thin': a place where the spiritual and the mundane are close to one another. If you felt this at any of the spots, feel free to talk about it.
The Stolen Child ~WB Yeats
Today we learned about efforts to keep the Irish language alive and vibrant and visited the Gaeltacht where Gaelic Irish is the first language for much of the population. We visited Sliabh Liag Cliffs and saw the austere landscape of this part of Ireland. Think about language loss and revival and the factors that lead to both in Ireland. Do you think the comparatively austere landscape of this part of Donegal has anything to do with the language spoken in this region? What were your thoughts about Sliabh Liag cliffs and the community that lives near them?
Today was all about man's relationship with the environment: whether riding horses through the unique dune ecosystems, drying peat on the bogs, or surfing the Atlantic ocean, today was all about the environment.
Think about how these coastal and near coastal environments affect everything around this area and how they must have impacted it in the past. In what ways do these environments and the diversity of coastal environments affect human culture both now and in the past?
Today was dominated by geology and the underlying rocks of Ireland. Although Giants' Causeway is the furthest place from Hawaii, distance-wise, that we will visit on this trip, it is also the closest in terms of the geological make up of the land. Although some 65 million years older than the rock that makes up Hawaii Island, it is nonetheless a very similar substrate. We also visited Dunluce Castle which partially fell into the sea because of the nature of the rocks on which it was built. For today's blog, I suggest that you consider geology and how it affects and shapes culture.
In the morning we had a lecture on the Great Hunger, the factors that led up to it, factors that caused it, and ways the world changed because of it. We spent our day on Devinish Island, an island on an island, settled in the 6th Century and built up in the 11th. Later we explored Enniskillen: home to side-by-side Catholic and Anglican churches and a complicated history between Protestant and Catholic residents. In many ways the geography and ecology of Ireland shaped all of these events: from early river settlements to the conflicts that arose because of Ireland's proximity to the heart of the British Empire. As you blog, think of how these events and places are linked and how nature played a role in shaping what we see today. Try to reflect on the differences you noted between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and what you think may create them. Also, just for fun, let us all know how you felt about the ropes course.
Today began with a lecture on the arrival of colonizing forces that changed cultural norms on this "island of saints and scholars." This was followed by a trip to St. Patrick's well and wising tree, Knocknarea (the site of the burial cairn of the powerful Queen Maeve), a visit with a white witch, and, of course, some live music. What do all of these places and activities share in common? Reflect on the building of the cairn of Knocknarea: types of stones you found, the location and distance from which you think they may have been brought and the manpower needed to to create this woman's grave. Think also about the role of different cultures and invasions in Ireland and how these have affected Irish culture, particularly in regards to a woman's role.
We began the morning with Niamh's talk on prehistoric Ireland followed by a visit to Cavan Burran where we experienced a landscape modified and shaped by Ireland's ancient human occupants and further modified by modern human landuse. Finally, we explored the Bundoran seacoast where ancient fossil organisms decorate the silt and where unique shapes in the limestone are explained through mythology.
Using all of these experiences, reflect on human use of natural materials in Ireland and how those materials shaped how societies developed and changed. What items naturally available in the landscape are used and how are they used? What available items seem underutilized? How does the landscape of today tell us about the cultures that preceded us? How do the ancient movements of the earth affect the landscape here and how does that affect the humans who live here?
Feel free to discuss other aspects of the day that interested you.
Feel free to write about anything related to today's events for your blog. If you want something to start you off, consider one of these themes:
1. Lough Crew: How do the monolithic structures of the Boyne Valley such as the passage tombs your saw at Lough Crew relate to pre-history in Hawaii? What are the similarities and differences between the structures made in these two cultures? How does the ecology and landscape affect the style and architecture of the structures? What about the art? What do you think it means? How does it compare to Hawaiian art (e.g., petroglyphs)? What aspects are already familiar to you? What aspects different?
2. Riding the bus and the Irish landscape. How does this landscape compare to that of Hawaii? What aspects of it are culturally driven? What aspects drive the culture? What do you think about when observing this landscape?
3. Music. Many of you listened to the sounds of American Blue Grass and Irish folk in the evening. Describe the experience and your understanding of the importance of music to the Irish and Hawaiian cultures. What aspects of the evening were your favorite and why?
How to write the Perfect Blog (AKA the 3-Rs of an A-blog)
A perfect blog entry will not only Recall and Reflect on what you, did, observed and felt during the day but will bolster your personal opinions and reflections with Research from outside sources (e.g., class readings from Laulima). A perfect blog will discuss ecology and culture and how they shaped what you experienced on that day. Include both text and images.